Marlborough has 20% of New Zealand’s coastline, 75% percent of its wine production – including its world-renowned Sauvignon Blanc – excellent bike trails, awesome walking tracks and an abundance of gourmet food. It offers a fantastic blend of outdoor activities, from relaxed to more adventurous, around its labyrinth of bush-lined peninsulas and bays. Before being whisked away by the rest of the South Island, be sure to explore the lovely Marlborough region.
KEY TOWNS AND REGIONS
Blenheim and Wairau Valley
Blenheim is the biggest town in Marlborough, enjoying one of the sunniest climates in the country. It is an ideal base for those who want to explore the local wine and food culture. You’ll also discover evidence of Maori sites and records of the early European whalers through to the colonial settlement of the region beginning around 1840. Blenheim is the focal point for the Marlborough wine-growing region, with a number of wineries located on the town’s edges and many more just a short drive away.
Stretching beyond Blenheim and to the nearby town of Renwick, rows and rows of vines are laid out across the stony fertile soils of the Wairau Plains. You can take one of the numerous guided wine and food trails from Blenheim or Renwick. Further up the Wairau Valley the vines give way to wide expanses of land and the forest-clad foothills of the Richmond and St Arnaud ranges, offering numerous walking tracks.
Picton and Queen Charlotte Sound
The picturesque port town of Picton is the gateway to the South Island from the Cook Strait ferries. The town is chock full of unique local artworks and delicately crafted jewellery and pottery amid its many galleries and souvenir gift shops. Built around a very sheltered harbour, Picton also has an attractive seafront dotted with cafes and restaurants.
It is also the perfect location to use as a launching pad to experience all that the Queen Charlotte Sound offers. There are nature reserves and a range of local bush walks with varying degrees of difficulty, all offering spectacular views. Travel by boat to walk the famous Queen Charlotte Track, 71km of spectacular walking tracks stretching from Ship Cove to Anakiwa that traverse historic sites, secluded bays, skyline ridges and coastal bush.
Havelock, Pelorus and Kenepuru Sound
Located between Picton and Nelson, Havelock is an authentic and historic little fishing port. Once a gold mining settlement, the town has many quaint colonial buildings, which today house boutique galleries and eateries. Havelock is best known as the Greenshell Mussel Capital of the World. These delicious shellfish are a product of a thriving local aquaculture industry in the cool, deep waters of Pelorus Sound and Kenepuru Sound.
Havelock is the perfect starting point for exploring the sounds, as well as the smaller Mahau Sound. Pelorus Bridge Scenic Reserve offers easily accessible walking tracks ranging from five minutes to four hours, and the refreshing forest and river scenery is perfect for swimming and fishing. The popular Pelorus Track, a three to four-day tramp in the Richmond Forest Park, leads up to the Pelorus Valley and over the Bryant Range.
Getting here and around:
Picton is connected to Wellington via the Cook Strait ferries, most prominently, Interislander and Bluebridge.
The Coastal Pacific train is a scenic rail service between Blenheim and Kaikoura over the summer months.
Marborough Airport is a five minute drive from the city centre. You can also fly into Koromiki Airport a few minutes out from PIcton.
Regular coach and bus services connect Marlborough to the rest of South Island. Shuttle service is also available.
Spring (Sep-Nov) – warming up with clear days and showers clearing, 8-18°C; Summer (Dec-Feb) – warm and sunny, 21-30°C; Autumn (Mar-May) – cooling down, 8-19°C; Winter (Jun-Aug) – cool temperatures with some rain, 4-15°C.